As parents know, they days of simple birthday parties are long gone. The themes and concepts seem to get more and more elaborate. And it is our challenge to make the whole thing seem effortless, right? My wife and I have been steadily downgrading the kids’ parties for the sake of sanity. We now have it whittled down to neighborhood kids, a few close schoolmates and best buddies. That is it.
Normally on the weekends I count him as my apprentice, whether I’m pulling weeds, fixing the fascia on the house or mending the fence. He’s had his own toolbox and tool belt for awhile now. So my wife figured he would enjoy a construction theme for his birthday.
Boy did he, our oldest son turned 4 last week. So we decided to invite a few kids over (twelve) to a Construction Themed Birthday Party (”Dress for Mess”). The festivities included lightening rounds of hot potato, musical chairs and duck-duck-goose. Mind you, we made all the games non-competitive. Meaning, for Musical Chairs we had equal number of chairs (12 kids, 12 chairs) to avoid the whole “you’re out” (meltdown). Which worked out well.
When the kids arrived they were given a yellow plastic hardhat and brought to an activity table where they could personalize it with stickers and such. They were each given a kid-sized work belt, that they could write their name on and draw all over. It was stuffed with little party favors (stickers, pencil and ruler set, brushes and travel size paint set).
The main attraction was three cardboard house I fashioned from appliance boxes(pictured above). I got the boxes at the local dump a few days before and used a crazy amount of duct tape to hold them together, in true “dad” style. My wife bought small paint roller kits, cheap paint brushes and matching plastic drip trays with large bottle of washable tempura paint. With this set up the kids got to paint the houses, inside and out. They loved it.
After lunch (wings, drumsticks, homemade mac & cheese and large chunks of watermelon), the kids were treated to a kinder, gentler pinata shaped like a construction cone. This concept came from Family Magazine (awful directions), and is made from cardboard and fluorescent orange construction paper. Note to the parents - just purchase a lightweight plastic construction cone at the hardware or automotive store and attach a trap door on the underside rather than trying to make it from scratch (with cardboard and paper).
Each kid got to pull one of the pieces of caution tape attached to the bottom of the cone. One of the pieces is attached to a trapdoor and when the pull it the door open and the candy drops. Whoopee! Good times! And best of all no injuries.
The grand finale was, of course, the Backhoe Birthday cake. Again, this was from the same Family Magazine article. It came out quite well. My wife and sister-in-law did a fantastic job. The main portion of the cake is fashioned from a store-bought pound cake, a ton of yellow frosting, twix bars, a twinkie for the shovel, yellow licorice, chocolate glazed donuts, crushed Oreo cookies (dirt) and a couple red M&M’s. You know something light for the kids (Bwahahahahaaaa).